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Ten years ago these extraordinary objects started to appear on Ebay, coming into Beijing via Shi Li He Market, and being sold on by dealers, (who have always in my experience been meticulous in fulfilling orders). They were listed under ‘Hongshan Shui Jing’ as ‘cannulation tubes’, whatever that means! The longest such tube in my collection is 56 cm long. Some of these pictures were kindly taken for me by Steve Lawton. The most I paid for any tube was $30 on Ebay.







Note on the next one, the last piece has a square hole, and the last but one none. Note cicadas, a typical Hongshan icon


I believe the colour variation is due to adsorbed soil minerals, since it elutes with strong acid


The hole of the middle one is a hemicircle


And the left one is a hemicircle and two flat faces at right angles


Face lit up by reflection back from the flat inner surface. Magical!




Same distorted by outer carving


I was immediately struck by their beauty, craftsmanship and surface iconography - note for example the cow gods and zhulong. I soon came to realise that the holes down the centre were natural, not drilled. It is certainly possible that some of the large holes were reamed out, but always using existing natural holes as a guide, for example with a bamboo pull-through faced with impact diamonds. However you will note many of these pieces in which the holes are completely natural. Among the most interesting are two in which there are literally hundreds of small holes clustered together to look like a long straight cloud, and the carving has been done around them. Another has a tapering hole, and this is partially blocked by a piece that has fallen from the side under gravity while still molten. These could not possibly be modern or man-made glass: and remember they are pure SiO2 with a melting temperature over 1600 C.






Same piece


Effect caused by outer carving and distortion


multiple small holes


Cow god, one side of face lit up by multiple fine holes


Same piece from behind, and another with similar cloud of holes


Above two pieces viewed from the end


Zhulong, illuminated by light reflected back from the cloud of tiny holes, icon confirming Hongshan lineage


Note here, in addition to the central 'cloud cluster' there are other lens-like bubbles running parallel



Smaller tubes are also informative and can sometimes still be found on Ebay and in antique markets in China. I shall post on them separately.

My hypothesis is that a deep pool of liquid or semi-solid glass on the ground after ejection was struck by lightning, maybe during a massive electrical storm, vaporizing tracts of silica to plasma along the line of electrical discharge to earth. This would be analogous to fulgurite where crude tubes of fused silica are formed when lightning hits sand; but in this case the glass was already preformed when struck. Then, as the glass cooled slowly over the months and years, the tubes of Silica vapour and the glass around it contracted, creating many natural lines of cleavage (as is seen with cooling basalt). Finally when cool the tubes could be gently and expertly prized apart starting on the outside and working progressively inwards, and then techniques of turning and carving the glass were improved till it was fine enough for the Priest-King.

Finally, a big question. Does the fact that these pieces are so obviously original, and yet seem to be totally denied by the supposed expert guardians of the past, speak of a Culture that lies uncomfortably with the present? Such that it seems best for officials to appeal to their own authority and ignore it out of existence? It speaks to me of a people with a currency in art and an ethos and belief system completely different from the late warrior cultures up to and including today’s (which seem designed at all levels to concentrate power into the hands of empathy-deficient people with strong psychopathic tendencies!)

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Subject Views Written By Posted
The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 1596 drdavidanderson 08-Feb-18 18:08
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 148 MDaines 09-Feb-18 11:28
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 137 drdavidanderson 09-Feb-18 15:24
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 147 michael seabrook 11-Feb-18 21:50
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 129 drdavidanderson 12-Feb-18 08:32
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 135 Apap 13-Feb-18 01:04
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 132 drdavidanderson 13-Feb-18 05:40
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 117 Apap 13-Feb-18 22:38
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 106 Wheeler 13-Feb-18 12:15
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 103 drdavidanderson 13-Feb-18 12:38
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 116 Wheeler 13-Feb-18 13:05
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 115 drdavidanderson 13-Feb-18 14:31
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 115 Wheeler 15-Feb-18 03:22
Tubes and ancient themes. . . 132 Reagent 15-Feb-18 07:02
. . . Forgot to ask . . 121 Reagent 15-Feb-18 07:59
Re: . . . Forgot to ask . . 104 drdavidanderson 15-Feb-18 08:16
Fine lathing technique??? 130 Reagent 15-Feb-18 08:43
Re: Fine lathing technique??? 110 drdavidanderson 15-Feb-18 08:58
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 110 Wheeler 15-Feb-18 11:12
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 114 drdavidanderson 15-Feb-18 11:25
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 108 Wheeler 15-Feb-18 11:44
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 140 jazzmumbles 15-Feb-18 13:01
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 105 Wheeler 19-Feb-18 02:23
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 132 drdavidanderson 19-Feb-18 13:55
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 96 Wheeler 20-Feb-18 20:19
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 106 drdavidanderson 20-Feb-18 18:27
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 116 Wheeler 20-Feb-18 20:24
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 102 drdavidanderson 20-Feb-18 21:21
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 100 Wheeler 20-Feb-18 21:44
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 237 Wheeler 21-Feb-18 11:51
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 97 pgalaxy 26-May-18 11:25


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